I think that one of the most important things to do to learn Spanish is to do the things you already enjoy doing in English. The things you DO… willingly. Happily. All the time. Whether they’re “intellectual” or purely guilty pleasures. If you’re a news junkie, read the headlines in Spanish. If you like comic books, get a hold of some in Spanish. If you love rap, try to find some Spanish rap you can get into. You get the picture. If you’re not a big reader, forcing yourself to read a fat tome in Spanish will be torturous and make you feel like you hate Spanish (when what you really hate is reading fat tomes). If you’re not all that into politics in the first place, making yourself read the articles on El País just to get some practice will be total dullsville. And once Spanish becomes boring, you might as well kiss any and all hopes of fluency goodbye. Just do what you already do… in Spanish. I know, I know–you’d think it’d be a no-brainer.
By the way, all those options above are things you can do on your own, perfectly safe from human interaction in the confines of your own home. You will, of course, learn a thousand times faster once you bring other people into the mix. Some people seem to really enjoy the scenery of the long route, though, and that’s okay. In any case, it’s not like you can sew a native speaker to your hip to have at your beck and call at all hours of the day. And non-speaking approaches also have their advantages, of course. Ideally, you’ll have a mix.
Me, lately I’ve been really into reading about the race for the Republican nomination… in English. I’m trying, though, to transition to reading about the candidates and all the madness en español. Since it’s a topic I’m highly interested in and I can learn some more relevant vocabulary at the same time, it works out to be a twofer for me.
Going one candidate at a time and starting with the Iowa frontrunners, here’s the first article in Google Noticias for Ron Paul. (Ronaldo Pablo, for our purposes here)
Well, I was grabbed by the headline. Antibelicista? What a beautiful word! Here are five that I learned from the article.
1. Antibelicista – antiwar
El congresista Ron Paul, aspirante a la candidatura presidencial republicana en EEUU y al que muchos consideran el “padre espiritual” del movimiento derechista Tea Party, es ante todo un ultraliberal convencido y un antibelicista.
You can see the tie from “bel” to bellicose and belligerent–hostile and militant attitudes. Antibelicista is the opposite of hawkish. I suppose a less beautiful but perhaps more common way to say the same would be en contra de la guerra. Also interesting to note that Tea Party is not translated. I know you really want to say Fiesta del Té, though.
2. Renta ≠ rent (income)
Paul, de 76 años y médico de formación, es un purista constitucional, partidario de reducir al mínimo el tamaño del Gobierno y de una política exterior no expansionista, así como de volver al patrón oro, de abolir los impuestos sobre la renta y de la libertad de mercado.
I thought, rent tax? Oops. False cognate (although renta is used a lot in Mexico for “rent”) alert! He wants to abolish the income tax. It seems to be a more formal and technical word for income, which I only knew as ingresos. Impuesto sobre la renta/ Impuesto a la renta = income tax.
3. Defender a ultranza – to fight tooth and nail for something
El Tea Party aboga por la mínima intervención estatal y por la austeridad fiscal, en sintonía con los ultraliberales que defienden a ultranza las libertades individuales y un Estado con pocas competencias que no se entrometa en la vida de los ciudadanos.
Probably a more formal version of pelear con uñas y dientes. (nails and teeth–note the reversal and plurals) Or luchar a brazo partido— thanks, Jim, for reminding me.
4. Eventual ≠ eventual (possible)
Paul es también un declarado antibelicista que votó en el Congreso en contra de la guerra de Irak, y advierte ahora de que una eventual intervención militar en Irán para frenar su programa nuclear sería todo menos beneficiosa para EEUU, en parte por el abultado déficit que arrastra el país.
Another false cognate. I first learned this the hard way via thinking that “eventually” translated as eventualmente. It doesn’t. Eventual means possible. If you read it wrong, you’d think they were saying a military intervention in Iran is something inevitable with the wheels already set in motion (which might be the case, sadly). All they were saying is that it could happen.
5. Caucus = caucus
En los “caucus” de Iowa, que abren el 3 de enero un largo proceso de primarias republicanas, Paul peleará por la victoria con el expresidente de la Cámara de Representantes Newt Gingrich y el exgobernador de Massachusetts Mitt Romney, según las encuestas más recientes.
I almost always see this word left in the original English because there’s no exact translation for it in Spanish. Fortunately, it’s usually unaltered in the plural; el caucus, los caucus. Just imagine trying to pronounce “caucuses” with a Spanish accent!
_________________________________________________ Non-natives, what’s your experience with these words? Had you heard them before? How have you heard them used? Where? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with?